Blog it Out: Writing Reviews

Posted May 17, 2016 by Suzanne in Blog it Out, Under the Covers / 37 Comments

blogitout

WRITING REVIEWS

I’ve read a few bad reviews in my time and some of them have been ones that I’ve written. But, I like to think that since I started reviewing, which was years before UTC was created, that I have vastly improved, which, is why I am writing this post. First of all, I’m going to get the good manners stuff out the way so there is no room for misunderstandings. In this post I’m going to tell you how I like to review and the kind of reviews that I like to read . I realise that not everyone is the same and rather than being a treastise on how to review, for some of you it might be a what NOT to do guide. I am okay with that, as long as it is a guide to something! So, if I say something you disagree with, I welcome that and I would be interested in hearing how you like to do things as well, so please comment and let me know.

Now that good manners are out the way, let me show you how it’s done, or at least how I like to do it. For me, there are a few stages with some golden rules as well as a set format to how I lay out my review. Having this set format makes it easier for me to compose my review, it means that I know where I will say certain things in a way that works for me.

But, before I set pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, there is one essential thing I always do, which may sound obvious, but is all part of my process. And that is:

REFLECT & MUSE

Which is just a fancy way of saying that I sit and think about what I have just read. Admittedly, some books require more reflection than others. The Shadows by J.R. Ward had me eager to start writing a review, I had so much to say! Yet, what I actually needed to do first was sit back and process my feelings and thoughts before a single word could be written, otherwise it would all be just a jumbled mess of my emotions, without much coherence or deeper thought. Of course, there are books that don’t require much deeper reflection and that’s not an insult to the author, when I read a sweet contemporary romance where my feelings aren’t hugely invested and it was just a nice read to pass time with, there isn’t much processing needed.

Nevertheless, whether the book is a huge emotional roller-coaster, or just a nice easy read, I would also sit and think, and here are some key points I would think about:

  • Did I like the main characters? What did I like? What did I not like? Did I identify with them?
  • Story line – Was it exciting? Interesting? Pointless? Contrived? Make sense? Did I like the world building?
  • Romance – Did the characters have chemistry? Was it believable? Were the sex scenes good?
  • Writing style – Did I like the authors style? Was it too wordy, too simple? Good editing?

Those are just a few thoughts and depending on the book and genre you may have things that you add, or take away. Notice I said in the last point about good editing, I know this is not the author, but bad editing or no editing at all can make a difference. If some bad grammar or spelling isn’t picked up, it can interrupt my flow whilst reading the book and this could be reflected in my rating if it happens often enough.

But, no matter what the book, whether it took you a few hours or a few days, whether it left you with tears in your eyes, a smile on your face or completely unmoved, it’s still worth taking a deep breath and gathering your thoughts before committing anything to paper or computer screen.

STRUCTURE

I always have a set structure with my reviews…which I mostly follow. But, if I have a particularly difficult book to review, then knowing how I want to frame my thoughts is always useful. So here is how I like to do it:

Paragraph One – The Blurb

A quick blurb of the book, I know there is an official blurb, and I guess you could copy that, but normally I like to do my own version, it allows me to think about the book again before I start commenting on it. Now, I have a GOLDEN RULE for this part: NO SPOILERS. My blurb of the book will tell not tell you anymore than the official blurb, it will just rehash it in my own words.

Paragraph Two – Free For All

I’m a rambler. And this is the part of my review where I allow myself to blurt out whatever is on my mind, usually related to the book in question…but not always, although I do try and connect back, even if it is a little obscure. This will be where I unload my initial general thoughts after I have finished reading and generally have a good old waffle.

Paragraph Three & Four – The Meaty Bit

Ahhh, so finally we come round to what I think about the actual book. I will use these two paragraphs to talk about whatever I liked and disliked about the book. Normally drawn from the points I reflected on before I started writing.  It sounds easy right? Well, it can be. If I absolutely detested a book, I find the review very easy to write…and it may turn a little ranty and all my paragraphs fill up quickly. However, it’s those mediocre books you have to watch out for, the okay ones that were nice to pass the time, but you will forget as soon as you  move on. They. Are. Killer. Which, is why it is essential that you do abit of reflection as soon as you finish reading…you need to find something to write about!

Paragraph Five – The End

Ah the conclusion. I like to sum up my feelings as a whole in a few sentences and make a decision on whether I would recommend it and (if applicable) I would read the next book in the series.

Of course, there are many a review where I have completely discarded the above structure and just went on a free for all! Normally this happens when I feel really strongly about a book, whether it’s loving it or hating it. Or just when I want to try out something new, which sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t…but it’s always fun to try.

THE GOLDEN RULES

So you have my process for writing reviews, and I have shared with you one of my GOLDEN RULES, but I have a couple and I always abide by these:

NO SPOILERS
(I hate spoilers in reviews when I read so I never give them out)

BE HONEST
(always be honest – doesn’t matter if everyone loves the book and you want to use it for toilet paper, say how you fell (constructively of course!) I guarantee you aren’t the only one who feels that way AKA don’t be a sheep!)

DO NOT GET PERSONAL AND INSULT THE AUTHOR NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU HATE THE BOOK
(or as I like to say – don’t be a twat – be a professional)

CHECK SPELLING & GRAMMAR
(pretty sure I make spelling and grammar errors regularly – but it would be even worse if I didn’t always double check!)

TRY AND BE INTERESTING – IF YOU FEEL LIKE TRYING SOMETHING NEW DO IT!

DO YOU HAVE A PROCESS FOR YOU REVIEWS? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW

5yearblogiversary

Now are you ready to get these giveaways started?

giveawayblogiversary2

One winner will take home:

WHITE TIGER by Jennifer Ashley
NEVER LET YOU GO by Monica Murphy
BROKEN JULIET by Leisa Rayven
SINNER’S CREED by Kim Jones

spacer

blogiversaryweeklong

4 Winners, each will get a massive bundle of books!
Winners will be randomly picked from the Rafflecopter below.

WINNER #1:

DARE TO RUN by Jen McLaughlin
SPIDER GAME by Christine Feehan
DANGEROUSLY BROKEN by Eden Bradley
EVERYTHING I LEFT UNSAID by M. O’Keefe
NEVER TEAR US APART by Monica Murphy (ARC paperback version)
PERFECT BETRAYAL by Season Vining
BAD ROMEO by Leisa Rayven (Signed)
THE BEAUTIFUL ASHES by Jeaniene Frost (Signed)

WINNER #2:

THE ART OF TAMING A RAKE by Nicole Jordan
DARING IN A BLUE DRESS by Katie MacAlister
THE GIRL IN 6E by A.R. Torre
DO NOT DISTURB by A.R. Torre
JUST THIS NIGHT by Mari Madison (ARC paperback version)
DOMINATED by Maya Banks (ARC paperback version)
THE EXHIBITIONIST by Tara Sue Me
TOUGH ENOUGH by M. Leighton
DARKNESS by Karen Robards

WINNER #3:

SWEET RUIN by Kresley Cole
LAST MILE by Katie Ashley
MINE by HelenKay Dimon
UP IN FLAMES by Abbi Glines (ARC paperback version)
EXPOSED by Brighton Walsh
LOVE OF THE GAME by Lori Wilde
RIDE HARD by Laura Kaye
FILTHY RICH by Virna DePaul
A LADY BY MIDNIGHT by Tessa Dare (Signed)
BROKEDOWN COWBOY by Maisey Yates

WINNER #4:

THE MASTER by Tara Sue Me
THE SHADOW by Sylvain Reynard
SWEET AS SIN by J.T. Geissinger (Signed)
THE UNTAMED EARL by Valerie Bowman (ARC paperback version)
RIVAL FORCES by D.D. Ayres (ARC paperback version)
DARK PROMISES by Christine Feehan

 

spacer

 ♡ Don’t want to miss any of our posts? ♡ 
Follow Under the Covers: Facebook | Twitter | Tsu | GoodReads | Email 

Follow me

Suzanne

Blogger/Reviewer at Under the Covers Book Blog
Gosh, we all seem to be admitting our ages…and I hate that I am at the point in life when admitting my age is a “thing”…whodda thunk it? I was kind of hoping I would remain 21 forever. However, I have moved out of that New Adult stage of my life and am now strictly in the Contemporary Romance age zone of 28. I would prefer to be in an Urban Fantasy arena, but I don’t think I own enough black leather. However, I could probably squeeze into some PNR, I am fully prepared to give a horn job to my favourite demon, or suck on my sexy vamps…fangs and I am definitely up for some heavy petting with some fine looking shifters. Than again their’s always Sci Fi…I am fully prepared to do the right thing and help some poor alien race with more 6 packs than a supermarket repopulate their planet. Not that I am loose woman or anything.

Annnnnd I will stop myself there, before I start waxing lyrical about my love of historical romance and fantasy as well; no one needs to know about my elf fantasies. As you can tell, I adore and day dream about most romance genres, and my three big loves are 1) reading about romance 2) writing about romance and 3) talking about romance with my gals. Which, is why I love Under the Covers so much, I get all my bookish needs satisfied and don’t get judged when I talk about my favourite characters like they are real people. Which they are right?
Suzanne
Follow me

Related Posts

Tags: ,

releasecalendarbanner

Under the Covers Book Blog Comment Policy
Please read our comment policy here.

37
Leave a Reply

avatar
32 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
32 Comment authors
Irma JTexas Book LoverSarah ScholzTonya GentryLacey T Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Timitra
Guest
Timitra

Thanks for the tips Suzanne

Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict
Guest
Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict

The tips are great and really make you think about the way you structure your own review. I think I’m kind of close, but I’m a rambler and I can sometimes do that right from the beginning!

Heather Fowler
Guest
Heather Fowler

These are great tips. I confess, after I list the facts and the publisher’s blurb, I tend to go hog wild. I’m going to try some of these out! Thanks for sharing!

JoannaM
Guest
JoannaM

I agree on pretty much every thing you say and I think I pretty much structure my reviews as you do. And yes, SAY NO TO SPOILERS! 😉

Betul E.
Guest
Betul E.

I started reviewing about 6 months ago and just write what comes to mind. I do feel like I need some structure and be more “professional” about it. I probably have many grammar/spelling mistakes in my reviews because English is my third language. But I do always try to double check especially if I received an ARC and am reviewing for my blog.

Amy R
Guest
Amy R

I try to leave a short review for most books I read but they’re usually only a sentence or two.

Sophia Rose
Guest
Sophia Rose

I nodded my head over all your points about reviewing. I’ve been reviewing for a while and had to figure out a template that worked for me. Probably the only big difference is that I add two other things on a regular basis- why I picked up the book and if it can be read standalone, out of order, or is it part of a series or is this new series a spin-off and should come after another. You do remind me that I need to take more time to get my thoughts in order before launching into the review.

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

I like the outline you use for writing your reviews … I always write with a structured format too

Lynnette
Guest
Lynnette

I rarely leave reviews for books because I always feel embarrassed and a little stupid. These tips are great so I am hoping they will help me right more in future.

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Never feel stupid, Lynette! Your thoughts and opinions will help many readers along the way so definitely leave as many reviews as you can 🙂 ~ Annie

trackback
Blog it Out: Writing Reviews – Under the Covers Book Blog | Bloodthirsty Muses

[…] Source: Blog it Out: Writing Reviews – Under the Covers Book Blog […]

Megan @ Reading Books Like a Boss
Guest
Megan @ Reading Books Like a Boss

Awesome post! I totally agree! Some of my first reviews were pretty terrible. I like to think my reviews have improved a bit since I started blogging almost 4 years ago. One thing that helped me was always making myself sit back and reflect about what worked AND what DIDN’T work in a book. I see a lot book reviews that were under 4 stars that only point out the positives. When I read reviews, I always want to know what the person loved, liked, and didn’t like. A couple of years ago I started making myself sit down and… Read more »

Kathleen Bylsma
Guest
Kathleen Bylsma

Love this! Great rules!

Kim Perry
Guest
Kim Perry

I also try to be honest, but fair. I try to describe what did and didn’t work for me and I don’t spoil the book for others. I like to include a quote or two that gives an idea of who the main characters are or how they interact with others.

Jennifer Schaber
Guest
Jennifer Schaber

Great post and awesome tips. I’ll have to add a bit to my reviews…something to reflect on. Thanks for sharing!

Esther Gerdzen
Guest
Esther Gerdzen

Thank you for the tips . I am gonna try them to write a review 🙂

Jolanda L
Guest
Jolanda L

Awesome tips. Thank you.

miki
Guest
miki

thank you a lot for all these advices

Laura Lovejoy Brunk
Guest
Laura Lovejoy Brunk

I suck at writing reviews ! It just reminds me of writing book reports back in school. I wanna write reviews, but without too many spoilers and be witty and smart too….its just not my talent.

EC
Guest
EC

These are some great tips to use when writing book reviews. Personally, my reviews (if I ever posted them) are not even close to the tips. Thankfully, the tips will help in the future. Great job, UTC! 🙂

(By the way, I switched two (Tweet & GR) links with each other when I pasted my links on them in this post’s giveaway. Just wanted to let you know they are legit, though switched with each other.)

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Noted, thanks so much! x

Diana Doan
Guest
Diana Doan

Happy Blogiversary!! Thank you for the giveaways!

Joanne B
Guest
Joanne B

Thanks for the tips to help us write our book reviews.

Janie McGaugh
Guest
Janie McGaugh

Happy Blogiversary!

Sue G.
Guest
Sue G.

I agree, I hate when there are spoilers in a review. If they post a warning in the beginning, then fine, but I get mad if there isn’t one.

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Totally agree!!

Mirlou
Guest
Mirlou

Happy Blogversary!
Thank you for this giveaway.

Artemis Giote
Guest
Artemis Giote

I haven’t written any review yet. Great tips, I think I am gonna try……
Thank you for the chance!!!!

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Yes, give it a shot! The best thing you can do for a book you love is review it for others to see 🙂

Mary Preston
Guest
Mary Preston

Fantastic thank you.

Mess
Guest
Mess

I love your giveaways and reviews

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

And we love you ;P

Lacey T
Guest
Lacey T

Thanks for the giveaway!

Tonya Gentry
Guest
Tonya Gentry

Great post! I struggle with writing reviews so this helped a lot. Thanks for the giveaways!

Sarah Scholz
Guest
Sarah Scholz

Great review advice ☺ Thank you 😊 Neat giveaway ☺ Thank you for the chance 😊

Texas Book Lover
Guest
Texas Book Lover

These are great tips. I try to right up a few sentences but usually just tbd up with star ratings.

Irma J
Guest
Irma J

Happy Blogiversary!! Thank you for the giveaways!